07 August 2011


For the last week, I have had the opportunity to host Riley, a 14-year old, 60-pound terrier mix, while his family vacationed in Cambodia. I offered to watch the dog for my friend Kim when she first mentioned that she was researching kennels. As fate would have it, the week that she and her husband would be out of town was the same week that Paul would be flying – his first multi-day trip in about six weeks.

This was an ideal time to take in a dog since Paul has a concrete rule that “nothing may enter this house unless it can contribute financially” – that covers all pets and babies.

He is against dogs of any kind and has all kinds of excuses for not having a dog. At one point last year, he said he would be up for having a cat. I prefer dogs to cats and really did not want to entertain the idea of having a furball that uses a stinky litter box but, after some time, I grew to like the idea of having a little friend around the house to entertain me on the five or six days a week when my husband was off flying. I researched cats and found a breed that I wanted. Suddenly, Paul was against the idea. He does this. A lot.

Paul was less than thrilled at the idea of hosting a dog for a week but gave in after mandating that I take full responsibility for all feeding, walking and cleaning up after “it.” I convinced him that this would be a chance for me to get my fix so I would stop bugging him about puppies and babies…at least for a while.

Having a dog for a week did have its ups and downs. I immediately realized that my schedule was about to revolve around the dog instead of my own timetable and desires. One day this week, I had plans for lunch and dinner. Though I left myself enough time to get home in between to walk the dog, I barely left myself enough time to get changed and on my way. My dinner plans ended up taking longer than I had anticipated, so I found myself racing to get back and walk the dog again.

When I was home most of the day, I started to realize that the dog was great at letting me know it was breakfast or dinner time but he would never indicate that he needed to go out.

I also found myself thoroughly cleaning my house throughout the week. I am certainly not complaining that I was cleaning my house; I just learned that it was necessary to clean the house more frequently with a dog present. Floors needed to be mopped because of dirty paws and spilled water from his bowl. Carpets needed to be vacuumed to pick up dog hair and drool. (This dog drooled like a teething baby when I would prepare his meals. It made me cringe.)

I warned my housekeeper that we had a dog this week and she indicated via text message that she was scared of dogs. Boy she was.

She entered my house just as Riley and I were coming back from our morning walk. When we came in, her eyes became larger than Tweety’s and she backed herself into the bathroom as if I were coming at her with a knife.

Now, Riley is about the size of a skinny golden retriever but he has a very friendly face, a happy and extremely lazy personality and he only barks at construction cranes. He is 14. He is not a predatory dog.

I have noticed that a lot of people here appear to be afraid of dogs. Some people, women in particular, got off of the sidewalk and walked in the grass to avoid the dog. So I can’t say I was surprised that the housekeeper was so freaked out at the sight of him.

I moved Riley’s bed, which is nearly the size of my own, into the study, gave him his breakfast and some water, turned on the room’s air conditioning system and closed the door. Sick, I went back to bed and only got up to go to the doctor in the afternoon. As I started to move again, the housekeeper advised that she was finished with the half of the house that I indicated she could clean that day. On her way out, she pointed toward the study door, still closed. “Is dog still in dair?” she asked. “Oh yeah,” I replied. “He is just sleeping. I told you he was harmless.” She couldn’t believe it.

Yesterday was the first day I saw my housekeeper in everyday clothes. She typically changes into work clothes upon arrival and Paul has always let her in in the past. She was wearing loose black pants, a shiny red, long-sleeved tunic and a hijab (headscarf).

I learned today that Muslims consider dogs evil, particularly black dogs, which may be inhabited by the devil. Riley is mostly black with some tan mixed in. I had no idea. I will never put a dog in front of my housekeeper again.

I will say that I did enjoy having a friend around the house. Riley certainly was entertaining. He was also a great excuse to get out of the house and exercise four times a day. My August resolution is to continue to get off my butt and exercise without him now that he is gone. Walking 1.3 km to the ice cream shop still counts, right?

When I came up the elevator and entered my condo dogless for the first time in a week, I was a little sad. Then I felt relief. I looked down at my shirt and saw a bunch of dog hair that I had attracted after carrying down the dog’s bedding. I searched all over for a lint roller that I know is around here somewhere but I gave up when I could not locate the roll. I seriously considered turning the vacuum cleaner on myself but I instead changed my shirt.

Paul came home this evening, about six hours after Riley left. He had only spent two days with Riley before he went on a five-day trip. Sitting across the dinner table, within minutes of his arrival, Paul looked at me and admitted that he missed Riley. He is now considering the notion of owning a dog. There are no words.


Paul M said...

I am not considering getting a dog. All that I said was that at times I liked having it in the house. However I was with it for about 48 hours.

I'd consider getting a stuffed dog.


LAW said...

Rachael - you definitely need a dog. Paul would eventually like - perhaps even love - a dog so I think you should go for it. Miss you bunches - LAW

Van said...

I'm w/ Paul on this one